Environmental Education for Kids
My goals for the semester were fairly straightforward. I hoped to become a more confident in front of a class, gain experience team teaching, and give kids and enjoyable/ memorable first experience with environmental issues.
Finding a Classroom that Wants EEK
This is probably the most frustrating part of the EEK internship. I hear that some years the sponsors have classes already lined up for volunteers to teach in, but this was not the case this semester. I found that it was up to me to find a classroom that wanted EEK and it took about three and a half weeks of daily calls and e-mails before I was standing in a classroom. From this I learned that many teachers are swamped with preparing kids for the world and it takes gentle persistence to get through to them.
Below is a list of some contacts that might be helpful to an EEKer looking for an available classroom. It is best to call between 2:30-3:15 because that is when schools tend to gets out. I found e-mail to be the best way to reach most teachers. A few hints: if you can wait, it is best to contact each teacher individually so you don’t extend your services to two teachers and then have them both say yes and find yourself over-booked. Also, don’t get discouraged if the first few contacts don’t pan out. Many teachers are under the gun to prep their students for standardized tests and don’t have time for neat things like EEK. Be persistent, there is a teacher out there praying for someone like you to call her/him.
1. Sharpstein School: 527-3098
· Terri Gilbert, email@example.com, -helpful in finding available teachers
· Sarah Vandonge, Svandonge@wwps.org (this is the bi-lingual class room I am teaching in spring 2002.)
2. Edison School: 527-3072
· Tod Crouter, firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Green Park School: 527-3077
· Tina Clark
· Joelle (she has an EEK group in her bi-lingual class almost every semester and is very encouraging.)
4. Assumption School: 525-9478 [This is a Catholic school that you will need a car to get to]
· Beth Call, email@example.com -helpful in finding available teachers
· Mary Ann Reinhardt (no e-mail) 525-0816
Prepping for Class
Leah Morse and I met every Tuesday during lunch to make lesson plans for the week. We met in the Environmental Studies room where we could look over old lesson plans while brainstorming. We decided before our first lesson to make a an ecosystem out of felt with a sun, tree, giraffe, soil, and water pieces that could be stuck on the felt board. The goal was to introduce the ecosystem and illustrate the connections between all these pieces. We planed to use the felt board as a transition tool as we explored each of these individual items. For example, after discussing water one week, we would break out the felt board and show how water affects soils before going into a soil lesson plan. The general pattern of our lessons looked like this:
· 2-22-02 Drop by when Sarah is teaching to observe her with the kids, learn some student’s names, see the size of the classroom.
· 2-27-02 Introduction to the idea of ‘environment,’ give felt board example.
· 3-6-02 Connections within environments, what happens when we remove the tree from the felt environment? Why is conservation is important?
· 3-27-02 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Succession games (Salmon Bear Mosquito etc.)
· 4-24-02 Cycles, water cycle, how humans use/ waste water.
· 5-1-02 Energy, what it is, how we use it, and ways to conserve it.
It was helpful to have an overall plan for the class and I highly recommend choosing an overall plan for the semester before you go into the classroom.
We spent a total of about 3.5 hours a week working on EEK stuff. An hour Tuesday
lunch planning lessons, an hour Tuesday night preparing props and supplies,
and an hour and a half on Wednesday getting to the school and teaching the lesson.
The usual Wednesday schedule looked like this:
· Leah and I met outside the SUB every Wednesday at 1:00 to walk to Sharpstein.
· Arriving at 1:10, began the lesson by 1:15
· Started clean-up at 2:05
· Sang a goodbye song at 2:15
I was proud of the time we did put in and I think Leah and I were remarkably efficient with our time when planning lessons. However, meeting on the Tuesday before we taught didn’t leave much time to buy supplies for the next day’s class. We didn’t get to teach a lesson plan on soil where the students would make soil layers out of various candies and a worm bin out of real dirt because of this time restriction. If I do EEK again next semester I will try to schedule the planning day earlier in the week.
Sample Lesson Plan
1. (5 minutes) Review what is an ecosystem from last week.
2. (5 minutes) How does removing a tree from the felt board ecosystem affect the environment?
-Nothing to make oxygen for animals and humans to breath.
3. (5 minutes) If it’s harmful to cut down trees, than why do we do it?
-To build houses
-To build ships
-To burn for firewood
-To make paper for students to use!
4. (5 minutes)Discuss methods of reusing paper.
-Use the other side for phone messages
-Make paper airplanes
-Make environmental study journals!
5. (20 minutes) Hand out pre-cut paper, string, and cardboard. Make and decorate environmental journals.
6. (5 minutes) Clean up
7. (10 minutes) Introduce idea of reduce reuse recycle, sing song to the tune of “your shoulder’s connected to your backbone.”
The sun is connected to the tree
The tree is connected to the soil
The soil is connected to the water
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Comment on Conservation Connection lesson plan:
· It was essential that the paper and cardboard be cut ahead of time. It would have been complete chaos without it.
· It was good to re-visit the felt board from the week before and test them on what they remembered.
· They LOVE to sing and did all the hand motions to the song.
· The only serious problem with this lesson plan was that it only covered the “reuse” part of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle so we had to re-visit the topic again the next week. This was hard because they lost interest when we weren’t constantly doing something new.
Benefits of team-teaching
I team-taught with Leah Morse and the two of us were plenty for a 16-kid class. If you are going to teach more than that I think a third person is really helpful. After you get together to make up lesson plans, we find it works well to delineate jobs of who will type of the lesson plan, who will get the props ready for the class, etc. so the work is spread out evenly. Leah and I complimented one another’s teaching styles well because we allowed the other to step in when they had something to say. I learned a lot from watching her teach. It gave me an extra sense of support and security to know that she was there to help bail me out if I was struggling and visa versa.